September 29, 2014

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome to Doc Talk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson. I am glad that you joined us today. I’m going to be joined by Dr. Mike Apley. And we’re gonna talk about managing pregnant heifers in the feed yard. It’s a topic that comes up from time to time. Thank you for watching the show and we’re gonna be back right after this message.

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(Dan) Folks welcome to Doc Talk. Mike welcome to the show. (Mike) Thank you. (Dan) Folks this is Dr. Mike Apley and he’s a professor here at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. And he is a a Boarded Clinical Pharmacologist. But today we’re gonna talk about something from his previous life as a practitioner and talk about managing bred heifers or pregnant heifers when they get in the feed yard. I kinda of did a little bit of review before the show and about 16-20 percent of the heifers that come into the feed yard are bred. And 10 percent of those that are bred are what we call long bred or further along in gestation. And I think it’s hard for people to understand the …one out of five heifers coming in is pregnant. So what are some things… why would that be a problem? (Mike) Well it becomes a welfare issue because we want to treat these heifers as well as we can in the feed yard. And we don’t want them to calve in the feed yard. And so those long breds are a real challenge, because calving in the feed yard with the heifers, not our ideal situation. The short breds, even them, even if they may not calve in the feed yard when they go to the packing plant we lose a lot of performance in there because a lot of energy, a lot of feed has gone into producing that calf, and into producing the fluids and the uterine tissue and everything else that goes along with that. So it’s not doing well for any of us. (Dan) Yeah when they seem, when they take out that slunk or when they take out that fetus and the gravid uterus is 115 pounds at the time of slaughter in some of these animals that they’re slaughtering. Animal welfare, animal health, and decreased performance which…all of them wind up meaning decreased beef consumption and meaning decreased profitability of when we look at performance. (Mike) Absolutely and you know when you’re selling on a hot carcass weight, if you have ten percent pregnant heifers in the pen, think what that does to your yield versus what you put the feed in. It just absolutely destroys a yield. And I still go back as a veterinarian to the primary thing is, I hope we can do everything we can that they don’t come to the feedlot pregnant. And then when they do, really interested in absolutely minimizing the effect on that heifer of them coming in which requires some pretty intensive management and a commitment to seeing that management through group after group after group. (Dan) Yeah, and I go back to my time in practice, I’m looking at not only do… they’re not supposed to be having a calf in the feedlot, but then the retained placentas, the mastitis issues that can happen. But the big one or the downed heifer and the dead heifer. People don’t realize that these heifers can’t have the calf. This isn’t a cow/calf operation where we’re checking them all the time. And it’s something that you know when they aren’t assisted and they’re in there overnight it’s a big problem. And getting back to guaranteeing open heifers and heifers opened is gonna be a big deal. (Mike) It’s a really big deal. (Dan) Well, let’s take a break. (Mike) OK. (Dan) Then when we come back let’s get into some of the drugs and the reasons why we use them and we’ll get into some of the program. Thanks for watching Doc Talk. Dr. Apley and I will be back right after these messages.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Mike Apley who is a friend and colleague here at Kansas State University’s College of Veterinarian Medicine where we both work with beef cattle and do a lot of production medicine type work with feed lots. And we were talking during the break about this is a pretty sensitive issue. And it’s one of those that when people start talking to us about animal welfare and food safety and environmental stewardship and you know it’s easy to talk about all the successes because we do such a wonderful job of tending to our livestock and doing the right thing. And this is a sensitive area but if we can’t be open and transparent about issues that we have and successes that we have it kind of becomes a one sided street. So, even though this is a sensitive area we still… it’s something that we need to address as an industry and when you have the opportunity to come on the show and we need to take that opportunity to visit. (Mike) And well one of the big issues about it is it’s a transitional issue between a part of the industry and another part of the industry. (Dan) Right. (Mike) We do everything we can to keep those really synched up and what we can do back here that’s best for up here, which allows them to do what’s best for back here. So it is a really important one to address so that everyone through the whole breadth of the industry is aware of it. (Dan) Yep. So, let’s talk a little bit about the difference. So, I hear the term short bred and long bred and short bred is not like shortening bread. (Mike) No not at all. (Dan) Some short bred heifers and some long bred heifers. What’s kind of your cut off there? (Mike) About a hundred days. (Dan) So a hundred days gestation? (Mike) Yeah. A hundred days gestation. And actually when a veterinarians preg checking cattle, it’s really a pretty good place to make a break too because at 90 to 100 days that uterus disappears way down over there, that catalina is getting a certain size. And so it’s one of those sizes where you can kind of come back up and go, oh yeah it’s about a hundred days and then move on from there on up as long bred. (Dan) So, talk to me a little bit then, difference of what’s going on physiologically. Progesterone is the hormone folks, that maintains pregnancy. (Mike) Before a hundred days, progesterone is coming from what’s called the corpus luteum. (Dan) OK. (Mike) And the CL is responsible for generating that and maintaining the pregnancy. And then once we get beyond a hundred days we start to transition where the placenta is creating a large percent of that progesterone. So in dealing with those pregnancies after 100 days we also have to take the fact that that placenta is also producing progesterone and not just the corpus luteum. (Dan) Right and that’s how…I had a group of heifers once that were spayed that had calves. And the reason was is they spayed those heifers after they were 100 days in gestation and the placenta was producing enough progesterone on its own to maintain the pregnancy even though those ovaries had been removed from the body. (Mike) And that’s one really important thing for viewers to understand is that when you spay a heifer you just take the ovaries out, versus if they take their dog or cat in to be spayed they take the uterus and the ovaries too, so it’s a big difference. (Dan) Yep. Well when we come back, let’s get into some of the programs then that we’re gonna do for some of the short bred and some of the long bred heifers when we want to abort or preg check and abort these heifers in the feed yard, so that we can prevent some of the issues that we talked about earlier. Hey folks, thanks for watching Doc Talk, Dr. Apley and I are gonna be back after these messages Stay tuned.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Mike Apley. We’re from Kansas State University. Hence the purple pride baby. We’re talking about managing bred heifers in the feed yard. Went through the numbers of them, some of the problems and then how we determine short bred and long bred, so now let’s talk about… let’s make the determination. One thing you can do is just do nothing. And that’s… (Mike) A lot of things pay consequences, the heifer and the performance. (Dan) So, if you buy these heifers cheaper and they wind up with some pregnant ones, we can preg check and abort the heifers. And so going back based on the physiology, talk to me first about what are gonna do with that short bred heifer? (Mike) That short bred heifer, we’re usually very effective with just using a prostaglandin, an injectable drug that goes in and shuts down the corpus luteum, which is what’s left on the ovary after they ovulate and release the egg. then the corpus luteum starts, maintains pregnancy and we can interfere with that pregnancy by administering that drug. (Dan) So we’re gonna give ’em Lutalyse, ProstaMate, those are the… ProstaMate is the generic. (Mike) pgf2 alpha is the generic. (Dan) Prostaglandin. (Mike) One of the things to keep in mind when administering that, one of the thing the prostaglandins do besides our intended effect is they can constrict vessels around them. So, even more than usual it’s very important we pay attention to cleanliness of our injection system or the syringes and the needles. That they’re absolutely spotless because Prostaglandin when being injected, if not done correctly is… you can create some injection site problems if there is any contamination. Even more than regular injection. So, it can be administered in a safe and effective manner, just have to really pay attention to our process as we do it. (Dan) Cool. Well, so short bred, we find one that’s bred less than 100 days gestation, one shot of Prostaglandin and f2 alpha lulisprosyimate and do it right at the time of processing. Now, let’s move to that long bred heifer. (Mike) Long bred heifer, we’re gonna have to add some Dexamethasone to help shut down that placental contribution and mimic the fetus saying, I’m ready. (Dan) And I think that’s one thing that’s really cool, is people they ask why does the cow right before the storm, why do they go have the calf? And not only the fetal cortisone, when that fetus gets too big it gets stress and it produces cortisol. And that triggers the cow then to have the calf. And when we have the storm we get not only big calf, but then we get that cow getting excited and getting nervous and anxious and we get the cortisol, so when we give ’em Dex, that’s what we’re simulating? (Mike) Yeah. And we simulate that and then those two together are effective. So, some will go out to 150 days thinking that that’s the window. some will do everything longer but as you go past 150 there’s the potential for some decreased effect out until the very last part. But as I understand it when we look at the ones that are long bred, our chances of being effective in the protocol decline as we go longer versus the short bred. So the longer the pregnancy when we have a chance to interact with it, the less our chances of being really effective the first time. (Dan) Cool. When we come back we’re gonna talk a little bit more about the long bred heifers and we’re also gonna talk about some of the interactions with respiratory disease. You’re watching Doc Talk we’ll be back after this message.

(Dan) Hey folks, welcome back to Doc Talk. Dr Dan Thomson and Dr. Mike Apley, we’re here from Kansas State University’s College of Veterinarian Medicine and we not only have on the purple shirts, but when we’re injured purple band-aids are in vogue now. And probably start marketing those here before too long. (Mike) Those will be next commercial. (Dan) Anyway folks, we’ve been talking about a sensitive topic, bred heifers in the feedlot and when we left we were talking about those long bred heifers. And we’re gonna give something Dex, talk a little bit about how you recommend we do that and when we do that. (Mike) Usually if we have long bred heifers we like to not try to abort them right at initial processing, it’s the highest stress time we can possibly have. So we may wait a week or two weeks, even though that puts it further along it allows us to get ’em past the stress of moving in, getting acclimated to the new environment, getting used to possibly new pen mates and get them up on feed a little bit. Make sure that’s taken care of . Because Dexamethasone can be a pretty good immunosuppressant. At the dose we use for the heifers if you give that three days in a row, that’s a model for down playing the immune system that’s used in research. So one time is important. (Dan) Very significant. (Mike) And even then, when stacked on top of other things we worry about whether or not we may increase the likelihood of having some respiratory issues or other issues with them. And that brings up another very important point with the long bred heifers is that once they have the drugs administered we have to bring them back and check ’em and often times that’s in a week or somewhere around there. So they’re kept up close where we can do that or marked. (Dan) To make sure that they’ve aborted. (Mike) Yeah. Sometimes people, if they’re taking the switches off tails may just leave the long breds long and you go out and get ’em and you do ’em and then you go back and get ’em to check ’em later. But you have to make sure whether or not they’ve successfully aborted or not. (Dan) We used to put a dangle tag inside the lot tag too, that would dangle down so it was easy for the cowboys to find ’em. (Mike) Yep. Cause we’ve gotta see ’em back. We need to check. Probably not going to have a 100 percent efficacy, so we need to identify the ones that didn’t and either know how far along they are and if they need to go early or if…so we avoid calving in the feed lot. Or we address it by maybe another attempt. And then we also need to check if they have aborted the placenta was expelled OK. (Dan) Right. (Mike) And everything. So a heck of a lot of management involved in handling these girls right. (Dan) Yeah. And you know, also getting those heifers to the point where we aren’t complicating them with respiratory disease. And sometimes people think that when they give the abortificant, it’s gonna happen right now. And it’s usually 48 to 72 hours before we’re gonna see expulsion of that fetus. So even if you wanted to keep ’em up in the hospital pen till that point. (Mike) Yeah, so it all comes down to some management intensive process. We’re committed to doing it right. Our best way forward would be to not have ’em. (Dan) Yep. Let’s get some guaranteed open heifers. Well folks, that’s the end of the show today. Thank you so much for watching us. Mike thanks as always for being on the show. Remember always work with your local veterinarian in devising these types of protocols and which types of programs you want to use and if you want to know more about what we do here at K-State you can find us on the web at www. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson, I’m very thankful that you watched the show today. Stay tuned with Doc Talk in the few coming weeks. And I’ll see you down the road.

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